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How do schools use peer support?

In 1998, children and teachers from 51 schools in Britain (mainly England but also Scotland and Wales) were asked about using peer support to tackle bullying. The support schemes included: mediation (helping discussion on school problems such as bullying and racism), mentoring (where a pupil, often older, was a positive role model for a more vulnerable pupil), befriending and counselling. When asked about the benefits of peer support, the most frequent answer of children and teachers was that it gave users of the scheme strength to handle their bullying problems. When asked about benefits for peer supporters, the most common answers were acquiring skills and showing that someone cares. Teachers and pupils felt that the most common benefit for the school was showing that it cares. The problems mentioned most often concerned acceptance of the scheme by pupils and teachers and also the negative attitudes of some teachers. However, the responses showed that there was a commitment to solving problems and improving the system.
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Article details

P Naylor and H Cowie (1999) 'The Effectiveness of Peer Support Systems in Challenging School Bullying: the perspectives and experiences of teachers and pupils' in 'Journal of Adolescence', Volume 22, pages 467-479.
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Graph details

Figures 3 and 4, page 472 in the article above.
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Helen CowieAuthor details

Helen Cowie is research professor in the European Institute of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Surrey. She is also director of the UK Observatory for the Promotion of Non-Violence and Co-ordinator of Violence in Schools Training Action (VISTA). She has published many books and papers on peer relationships and support, bullying in schools and in the workplace and the mental health of children and young people.

For information about her research interests and her publications please go here. She may be contacted by email.
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